By Hollis Taylor
When we find our calling its one of the most fulfilling things any of us could wish to accomplish in life. In Let’s Dance, Bright Hawk and I feel like we have found it. Maybe its because we both have strong values about taking care of our elders. We both feel strongly that residents should have access to our program because of the profoundly healthy ways it inspires the residents.
When we are asked to do Assisted Living Communities I never know what I am walking into. Sometimes everyone is in wheelchairs and other times I could be filled with a group of very mobile and energetic people. Sometimes some communities can change from month to month, so we are always prepared to simply “Shine Our Light”
I have had many very close friendships with the elder community and one thing that they often complain about is being ignored. This was more prevalent among the independent and assisted living communities. I have witnessed people talk about them in their presence as if they were not there. I have seen them get overlooked and even seem invisible. Some of them can easily find depression if this happens too much. One friend said, “I feel like I am already dead.”
Her statement stuck in my head for days and I had begun to work Let’s Dance as an activities person with recorded music. Each time I started the activity I decided to greet everyone, each individually. This, with cognitively challenged groups, would give me an automatic first impression. With respect and love for them, no matter what they say, I shake their hands, find eye contact, and share a smile. Smiles are most contagious and both of us use them to help bring joy to the circle. Even if they are not cognitively challenged they still appreciate the validation and individual attention. This is why we ask to keep the group to 30-40 people.
Today, as I do Let’s Dance regularly I find that this piece has become necessary to include all people. This helps bring us all onto the same page with mutual respect and love. It also helps them feel more compelled to dance with me the next time we meet. Most of all though I help them know that I see them, I love them, and I respect them. In this I know that I fill many hearts, simply because they tell me so. I am filled with gratitude to bring such amazing medicine right to their hearts, hands and eyes. Grateful for the opportunity!